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Anjeli Nandwani, a sophomore from Orange County’s Lake Highland Preparatory School, took home the top prize in the Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition. Anjeli won a trophy, a $5,000 cash scholarship plus $1,000 awards for her science teacher and school.

Since 1999, philanthropist, scientist and entrepreneur Dr. Nelson Ying has worked with Orlando Science Center to encourage the outstanding scientific accomplishments of our community’s teens. Projects submitted are required to have the ultimate goal of benefiting humanity.

Nandwani, 16, created a natural pesticide to help fight white flies and preserve tomato populations. The state’s $268 million tomato industry is the most valuable vegetable crop in the state, and 25 percent of the vegetation is ruined annually by pests — mainly the white fly. In fact, white flies affect 90 percent of the devastated acreage and their saliva can spread disease that can lead to total crop failure.

Photo Credit: Michael van Gelder of Gelderland Productions

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Orlando Science Center was joined by almost 20 other Florida-based science centers, museums, corporations and educators in a sprawling STEM Day exhibition at the Florida Capitol on Tuesday, April 21. STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and math education.

Developed by Orlando Science Center, this collaborative event marked the second consecutive year for STEM Day, which the Science Center created to engage with and help legislators better understand the growing impacts of STEM education in terms of workforce and economic growth throughout the state.

Photo Credit: Roberto Gonzalez

Video Credit: Dave Heller

Participating organizations were stationed inside and outside the Capitol building with interactive exhibits, simulators, robotics and more. State legislators discovered how museums and science centers bring STEM to life through engaging hands-on experiences while discussing the importance of STEM education as it relates to growing Florida’s technological workforce.

STEM Day partners included Challenger Learning Center of Tallahassee; Collegiate Pathways, Inc.; FIRST Robotics; FIRST Robotics Team FRC Number 3502: "The Octo-π-Rates"; Florida Afterschool Network; Florida Hospital; Florida Virtual School; International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research; Meta-Data Life Sciences (Aldebaran Robotics); Museum of Science & History, Jacksonville; Museum of Science & Industry, Tampa; National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (Florida State University); PHENIX Design Group, Inc.; River City Science Academy; STEM Sim Ex; Tallahassee Museum; and Valencia College.


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As a high school sophomore, Nikhil also conducts research at the Synthetic Reality Lab at the University of Central Florida. He was selected as one of the top 30 middle school science researchers in the country and competed in the Broadcom Masters competition in Washington, D.C., the premiere science and engineering fair for middle school projects. Nikhil’s research project seeks to identify early indicators of cognitive impairment, for instance, the ability to predict the likelihood a person is going to develop Alzheimer’s. His research has earned him first and second place in his region at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair the past two years.

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Anjeli fell in love with science in sixth grade when she took biology for the first time. This year, Anjeli has had the opportunity to conduct research at the University of Florida's Mid-Florida Research & Education Center. She’s created a natural pesticide that repels whiteflies, a pest that affects 90 percent of the acreage of tomato plants. She received an invitation to attend ISWEEEP at the Dr. Nelson Ying Orange County Science Exposition. In addition to research, Anjeli also enjoys reading, playing volleyball and traveling.

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Cathleen was inspired to pursue her passion for scientific research after reaching the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair as a freshman in 2013. She placed second in the state with her 2015 project, “Statistical Analysis of the Effects of Temperature on Incubation Lengths of Caretta caretta.” The high school junior will attend the International Sustainable World Energy Engineering Environment Project Olympiad, the world’s largest international science fair, this May. She plans to continue following her love for math and science with the ultimate goal of becoming a pediatrician.

cathleen-mestre


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Alexandra is competing in her second Dr. Ying Science Competition as only a sophomore. Alexandra’s project, now in its fourth year, focuses on algae biofuel and demonstrates her commitment to sustainability. Alexandra has been fortunate to receive many awards for her science fair projects, including best of show in her region at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair. She also placed at the International Science Fair last year in Los Angeles. Because of her love of science, she volunteers at elementary schools as a mentor to inspire younger children to participate in science activities.

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Peter won his first science fair when he was in the fifth grade. He has placed as high as fourth in the state science fair the past two years and has competed at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, which is the world's largest pre-college science competition. Peter’s project seeks an ecological and economic method to establishing a sustainable prawn population. He also plays for his school’s varsity golf and soccer teams.

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  Orlando Science Center is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of power2give.org/centralflorida and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts.
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